Blathr Wayne Lorentz

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Showing blathrs with the tag “Nevada National Security Site.”


Sunday, March 8th, 2020 Alive 17,848 days

The good thing about the plague is that itʼs made things quiet again.

When I first moved to this block, almost all of the homes were military households; mostly Air Force and Nevada National Security Site people (mathematicians, nuclear physicists). Couples, no kids. It was always so silent around here, and I would sit on my bench on the front stoop and read my newspapers in peace.

Then last year all of the military households were relocated en masse. New people moved in. An architect family. A massage therapist family. A guy running some kind of fleaBay business out of his garage. A family from New York via Malawi, Frankfurt, and Copenhagen. Ordinary people and many many kids.

As recently as last weekend, the block was alive after 3pm and on weekends. The guy tinkering on his car. The knot of ladies and their fashion accessory dogs. The guy flying model airplanes and home-made drones at the end of the street. Mexican polka music wafting through the palm trees. And about 20 children running, jumping, throwing things, and playing at murdering one another. Noise. Noise Noise.

Now everyone is afraid to go outside. The block is silent. Once again, the block belongs to me, my newspapers, and my coffee.

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Saturday, June 16th, 2018 Alive 17,217 days

A retired nuclear workhorse

Most people donʼt realize that there are other “areas” in the Nevada National Security Site besides Area 51. This railroad engine used to haul nuclear rocket engines around Area 25 before it crashed.

In other news, “nuclear rocket engines” are a thing.

Hereʼs whatʼs on the plaque:


In 2006, the Nevada State Railroad Museum acquired this 500 horsepower, 161,000 lb. diesel-electric locomotive from the U.S. Department of Energy. It was built in 1953 by the General Electric Company and initially served at a U.S. Naval facility before being overhauled and relocated to the Nevada Test Site in 1964. There, the locomotive was routinely used to transport nuclear powered rocket engines to various test stations.

The nuclear rocket program began in 1955 when the Atomic Energy Commission and the U.S. Air Force began various thermal reactor studies for the first assembly of a prototype rocket engine. During the 1960s and 70s the U.S. Government constructed several rocket development stations at Area 25 and connected them with their own series of railroad tracks, thus allowing easy movement of the rocket engines from one test station to the next throughout the sprawling site.

The unique name “Jackass and Western” stenciled on the side of the locomotive comes from the geographic location in which Area 25 is situated. Jackass Flats is one of several flats located at the Nevada Test Site, such as Frenchman Flats and Yucca Flats where most of the actual atomic testing took place during the mid to late 20th century.

The Jackass and Western Railroad operated as a charted common carrier until the U.S. Government suspended the nuclear rocket engine program in the mid-1980s at which time the locomotive sat idle and was put into storage.

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